I'm a skeptic at heart, but I love a good magic show. It's always fun to be stumped, confused or bewildered by a bit of misdirection, sleight of hand or social engineering. In some cases, you know that you might be able to learn the trick by looking it up online, but it always ruins the fun, and it's never worth doing. Much better to be left with the nagging doubt that maybe, just maybe, there are forces at work in this world beyond our understanding. And if you can get a bit of entertainment in at the same time, why not?
And Colin Cloud can certainly entertain. The well-dressed magician, who styles himself as a bit of a modern-day Holmes, is a warm, clever and funny host, easily able to keep the audience amused as he sets up his tricks. And he even manages to keep things pretty clean – don't be afraid to bring along children and the easily offended.
This show starts off strong and stays there, for the most part. Between the rock-paper-scissors psychoanalysis, baked-potato hand sniffing and GPS-precise accent guessing, I was not only fully along for the feats of amazement but also thoroughly enjoying myself. And from the buzz of the audience, I knew I wasn't alone on that count.
Unfortunately, his two final set-pieces were the least convincing. It's not that I know how they were done, it's that I can come up with some reasonable guesses without trying too hard. Wrong guesses, probably, but the point is that when you feel like the explanation is within reach then the magic kinda rubs off. It was still interesting, just not as fun as what came before.
Colin Cloud is a talented magician, easily able to work a room for laughs and astonishment. I have absolutely no qualms about recommending this to any and all comers: you're in safe hands, here, and if you make it to this show then you're going to have a good time.
For show times and to book tickets, see the Fringe guide.